6 years ago this week. I had nothing to lose.
2/12/14: I officially reached the point where I had nothing to lose. The keys to my first office space were in my hand and I was opening a massage therapy studio in a town and state that I had only lived in for a few years.
Two and a half years prior to *keys in hand day* my husband and I had relocated to NYS: 6/21/2011. He lost his job as a glass artist studio manager and we didn’t feel like we were making it in the Burgh. We took a leap of faith and moved to Corning, NY. The glass industry was strong there and there were lots of opportunities for massage therapy work. It was the summer solstice, a move to Corning, NY from Pittsburgh, PA and the birth of my nephew.
I thought the licensure process would be seamless. I had been a massage therapist for 11 years at that point and I also had an associate of science in physical therapy from my physical therapist assistant degree.
I waited 7 months for NYS to review my massage therapy license after our move, which was then denied. Even though I had been in practice for 11 years, Pennsylvania only established recognized licensure standards for 4 years before our move. I was not eligible for licensure by endorsement and the state found me deficient by 150 hours for being observed by another licensed massage therapist in my original training and also deficient for 10 hours of eastern studies. I wasn't able to just make up these hours. NYS only allows a massage therapy school to transfer 250 hours of previous education. I had to take the entire 1000 hour, 7 month program to become eligible for licensure in the state.
Insert gut punch.
I couldn't do it at that point, in my mind, go back and redo school. I remember thinking that this was a sign for me to do something different with my career. Maybe I needed to go back to physical therapist assistant work (which I had left because I was missing the autonomy I desired as a professional and being one on one with clients). I interviewed at a sports med clinic and when I got home I felt the panic. This wasn’t the way. I tried making eye pillows, self care items to craft for sale, but this wasn’t going to pay the bills. I ended up traveling to Pittsburgh every 2-3 weeks to see my clients there for work. (Mobile massage therapist work made all of that possible!)
The home we we were staying in Corning, NY was owned by a friend of Brent’s. He offered us inexpensive rent, while we stayed there and it was on the market, but you guessed it, it sold. After just 10 months in NY we were now putting everything we owned into a storage unit in NY and we went to live at Brent’s moms home in Akron, OH while we "figured things out". I remember seeing my life sprawled across the bedroom floor there and thinking “what the hell are we doing?” every. single. day. Akron was at least closer to Pittsburgh, so I again traveled there for work while we were in limbo. Brent has his own story through this process that would add another page to this story, so we will leave it at that.
We were broke, and we knew we didn’t want to stay in OH. We regrouped for a month and found a newly remodeled one bedroom apartment in Horseheads, NY 6/12/2012. A full year journey of WTFs???
I missed practicing massage therapy regularly and traveling to Pittsburgh every month was wearing on me. I chose to go back to massage therapy school so that I could meet the NYS requirements. I remember one moment of the first day of school so vividly. We learned how to open a massage table in the morning and I sobbed to my husband on the phone in my car at lunch because I couldn’t believe what I was doing. We were learning to open and set up a table? I was a mobile massage therapist! That is what I do!!!! It was all a test of patience, a reminder to always be open to learning, to always be a student. I ended up meeting and befriending so many wonderful people in my class, but there was a lot of time during those 7 months of school that I was just getting through the day, going through the motions that I needed to go through so that I could have what the state required of me. I know the journey was different for my classmates, but that was my truth.
October 2013 I was officially licensed and now Brent and I were considering moving to St John USVI for him to take a position at the Westin as a glass studio manager. The USVI also had a 1000 hour requirement. Returning to school finally seemed to make sense! We were going to move to the Virgin Islands! The Westin didn’t end up getting the contract for the glass studio and I was livid at this point. I needed to make something happen for me, for us!
I interviewed at a spa for perspective, to consider "playing it safe" for a job to start out, but my visceral response was, "no way". That spa's environment didn't feel true to what I could offer. I had so much drive at this point from all of the road blocks and I was ready to make it happen on my own.
Insert unstoppable passion and drive to open my own business!!
A store front office space became available in town and I signed the lease on 2/12/2014. I had nothing to lose. I could walk to work from our apartment which eliminated our need for 2 vehicles and we went to just one car. This helped me repay the debt that I now had from the NYS student loan and the business loan that I used to build my treatment room so that I could offer and share my work.
While I waited for build to happen, I spent 8 - 10 hour days for weeks just working on my website. Plugging in the SEO setting for massage therapy near Horseheads, Corning, Big Flats, Ithaca, linking online booking, creating my policies for standards and professionalism. I poured everything in my mind, my vision, and sharing my experience and who I was into my website. I offered options 6 days a week from 7:00A to 6:00P for session start times to help me build my clientele. I wasn't seeing a full schedule of clients during this time, but being available for so many options helped me connect with clients looking for work. The website, my availability and close proximity to my office and referrals from my clients helped build my business to its current fullest potential. Now I am booked with clients into the 3rd week of April 2020 and I have a schedule that offers me the opportunity to offer my best work and more time to focus on my health, which in return allows me to offer my best work.
What's next? I have been doing behind the scenes professional development, continuing education, NMR involvement. I have a book arriving today from one of my favorite women in business - Ash Ambirge. Her book is called The Middle Finger Project: Trash your Imposter Syndrome and live the Unf*ckwithable Life You Deserve. It launches today!!! Ash has helped me push my limits and think outside the box for years and she even wrote me a personal note with some ideas to push myself in new directions and offered me ideas and considerations with how I am operating my business. (How amazing is that!?!). She has an undeniable passion for women in business and a few of her key take aways from the book that speak to me are: "You must be brave. A person who never causes any problems doesn’t trust herself to handle what happens next. Quit often. Becoming an expert quitter means that you are also an expert starter. Every good idea is offensive to someone. That’s the nature of good ideas: they change things.". She pushes the limits and that is why I love her! I preordered her book back in November and I seriously can not wait to get my hands on it. I have been playing it safe again for awhile and I am ready for the next step.
6 years ago I had nothing to lose and I still don't. Sharing my story was an amazing reminder of that.